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Load up against West Hempstead's run? Not so fast
West Hempstead doesn’t care if you stack 11 players in the box. The Rams are still going to run the football with a full cast of experienced players that includes senior running backs Bruce Gibbs, Anthony Messina and Dean McCabe.
What the Rams want to do more of this season, though, is to air it out behind first-year starting quarterback Anthony Beaubrun, a junior.
"We will still run the ball at you," Rams coach Dom Carre said. "We want to be able to throw it so that we can keep people honest."
In order to keep opponents in Nassau Conference IV honest, West Hempstead senior right guard Mike Sands, a third-year starter, is determined to have his Rams be consistent at the line of scrimmage.
"We know we can play better," said the 6-4, 300-pound Sands. "We just can’t get cocky. We can’t go in there and do well for one play and take off the next. We’re relying on each other and communicating a lot."
Senior right tackle Sean Regan, a second-year starter (6-4, 250), is on board with Sands.
On a senior-heavy offensive line, which starts four players who have been playing at their respective positions since their freshman or sophomore seasons, Rams senior offensive and defensive lineman Christian Jean-Louis wants to bring big-time intensity to both sides of the ball.
Jean-Louis (5-8, 230) has been at his spot since his freshman season, while Sands, senior offensive and defensive lineman Kyle Outmagzine, senior tight end Donovan Steele and Gibbs have been starters since their sophomore seasons.
"It’s just been the same [formula] ever year," Jean-Louis said. "My favorite are the pass plays when I can get the sacks. We’re a run-stopping team. We’ve got a great D-Line, with linebackers and safeties coming down and filling the holes. We’re an all-around tough unit."
As the second seed in the conference’s preseason rankings, West Hempstead wants to be ready for the defending conference champion -- Roosevelt -- which Carre said knows how to "exploit your weakness well."
Carre referred to playing the Rough Riders as a chess game, understanding that the Rams must slow Roosevelt’s running game.
"It’s about having a nasty attitude -- aggressive and physical, all legal," Carre said. "You fine tune the small things and everything falls into place. We preach taking the right steps, the right reads and being in the right alignment assignments."
If the Rams can do all that, it’s going to make things a lot easier for senior Enrique McFarlane, a 6-1, 210 running back/linebacker. McFarlane returns to the fold after rushing for 770 yards and 10 touchdowns, while making 70 tackles.
"We’re looking to mix it up, have different formations," McFarlane said. "We’re looking to spread the defense and make big plays. We got to block more up front and work hard at practice. See yourself doing it in the game. No plays off."
"We’re getting everything fresh and crisp, so we can go far," said Steele, who was part of last year's conference semifinal team. "We’re working on being one good team and having everyone on the same page."
Outmagzine, who will play left guard, and Dean McCabe, a three-year starter at fullback and linebacker, feel the team specific drills are the most beneficial.
The repetition there will help the Rams hit people, cause turnovers and become playmakers, says senior free safety Anthony Messina, a second-year starter.
"We’ve proven we’re an elite team," Messina said. "We feel people are out to get us. We definitely have a target on our back. I think we’re playing with a chip on our shoulder."